Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Book Report: Instant Mom

I have never had a case of baby fever, much less baby rabies. I have never felt a longing to be pregnant, or to give birth. Occasionally, after a rough encounter with someone else's kid(s), I quip to Matt that we're never having children. Or I claim the stork is going to bring ours.

Even though I've never been all that excited about the idea of having children in the traditional manner, I will admit that I've always wanted to adopt. I don't know why, but for some reason I have always had this innate knowledge that, someday, I would adopt a child, regardless of whether or not we're capable of having kids the "old fashioned" way.

Family members have repeatedly tried to talk me out of this based on the assumption that adopted children are more likely to have emotional problems. But I think that the real problem is that we live in a kind of train-wreck, rubber-necking society, where we'd rather hear stories of social workers gone bad or adoptions gone wrong; children that have fallen through the cracks of society. Because those are more interesting than the stories of children who went to loving homes and grew up healthy and went to college and became regular ol' upstanding members of society.

That's one thing that I loved about reading "Instant Mom" by Nia Vardalos (yes, that's the woman who wrote and starred in My Big Fat Greek Wedding) — she acknowledged that this is true and instead chose to focus on the positive and the good things about the adoption and foster care systems in the United States.* I've never believed that those horror stories were the WHOLE story, so seeing the system through the eyes of people who have had a positive experience with foster-adoption was wholly refreshing.


After undergoing thirteen rounds of IVF unsuccessfully, Vardalos and her husband begin considering the adoption process. They say repeatedly that they are open to any gender, any ethnicity, any age, and they put themselves on the waiting list in several countries including the U.S. But while there is an appendix at the back of the book about ways to adopt children from various countries, the majority of the book was about the American foster-adoption (fos-adopt) system, and how they met the girl who would eventually, legally, become their daughter. And of course, the transition that followed.

I appreciated Vardalos' honesty that not everything was rainbows and butterflies following the placement of the almost-three-year-old toddler they adopted. Yes, their daughter acted out — trying to push the limits of what was acceptable, trying to get the new parents to prove that they weren't going to give her away. The book showed it was a long lesson in patience, but that it's a necessary process in which trust has to be built. And that once there is trust, adoptive relationships are just like any other family's parent-child dynamic.

This book was funny, heart-wrenching and easy to relate to. Whether or not you would ever consider adoption, whether or not you're struggling with your own fertility, whether or not you want to be a parent at all, I would recommend this book.

Anyone else considering non-traditional ways of becoming parents? Do you like celebrity memoirs?

*I've been reading adoption blogs for years, written by both parents of adopted children and those who have themselves been adopted. Some of them had positive experiences, some of them had negative experiences. Everyone is different. I like hearing ALL the stories, because I want to have a well-rounded view of what I would be likely to experience when we reach that point in time when we are ready to pursue parenthood. That time is not now.


  1. This is a great post, and it sounds like you really have a heart for adopting a child, when the time is right. :)

  2. One of my GF's just became a foster mom a few weeks back. (:

  3. My fiance was adopted at birth and is an incredibly well-adjusted, awesome guy, if I do say so myself. :) He's also incredibly close with his parents and family and has a relationship with all of them that's to be envied, honestly. I'm sure each case is different just as each child is different, and Nia Vardalos' story sounds fascinating; I didn't know she'd adopted. And I just watched "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" again last week. Such a fun movie, one of my favorites!

  4. I saw Nia talking about her book a while back and thought it sounded so interesting. Glad to hear you liked it, I think I'll add it to my list!

  5. Book on parenting???? isn't it scary???? Becoming a parent is very difficult thing to do...adopting...may be..! I hate children crying!